May 30th, 2014
04:34 PM ET
5 months ago

CNN's GUT CHECK for May 30, 2014

CNN’s POLITICAL GUT CHECK | for May 30, 2014 | 5 p.m.
—  n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY ERIC SHINSEKI RESIGNS ... In the end, even Eric Shinseki knew he had to go, President Barack Obama said Friday in announcing the resignation of his only Veterans Affairs secretary over a growing scandal involving sometimes deadly waits for care at VA hospitals.

Obama went before reporters shortly after meeting with Shinseki at the White House and said the retired Army general told him that "the VA needs new leadership" to address the widespread problems chronicled in new reports this week, adding that Shinseki "does not want to be a distraction" to fixing the situation.

"That was Ric's judgment on behalf of his fellow veterans, and I agree. We don't have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem," Obama said.


EARLIER THAT MORNING ... Shinseki announced a series of steps intended to address the VA problems, including the removal of senior leaders at the Phoenix VA hospital and elimination of performance awards for VA leaders in 2014. He also apologized to veterans and Congress, but declared: "This situation can be fixed." – Tom Cohen, Chelsea J. Carter and Ben Brumfield

REPUBLICAN LEADERS FOCUS REACTION ON THE PRESIDENT: "Until the President outlines a vision and an effective plan for addressing the broad dysfunction at the VA, today's announcement really changes nothing,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a news conference. “We’ll hold the president accountable until he makes things right.”

Hours after the resignation announcement, House majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, writes an op-ed in Politico saying, “It will be up to the president and Congress to provide meaningful support and oversight. The country should expect the president to engage finally in managing the government he is intent on growing.”

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said in a statement, “Restoring veterans' trust and confidence in the wake of this scandal will require much more from President Obama, including his sustained attention and hands-on leadership, which has been in too-short supply in recent weeks.”

See more: VA scandal: GOP pivots from Shinseki to Obama 

Gut Check Full Service: Click here to view the official bio of Sloan Gibson, the deputy VA Secretary who was appointed Acting Secretary of the VA by President Obama in wake of Shinseki’s resignation.

RESIGNATION #2 ... WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY LEAVING ... Jay Carney is stepping down as White House press secretary, President Barack Obama announced on Friday. Carney said he'd leave in mid-June. He is Obama's second press secretary during the more than five years of his presidency ... Obama said that Carney deputy Josh Earnest will step into the role.

CLINTON KNOCKS THOSE 'WHO EXPLOIT' BENGHAZI IN MEMOIR CHAPTER ... Hillary Clinton strikes a defiant tone on Benghazi in her upcoming memoir "Hard Choices" and knocks those "who exploit" the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack as "a political tool," according to a Politico report on the chapter.

The former secretary of State also writes that the attack – which Republicans have used to bludgeon Clinton since the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in the incident- is surrounded by a "regrettable amount of misinformation, speculation, and flat-out deceit by some in politics and the media." – Dan Merica

FIRST ON CNN: GOP CHAIRMAN OF SELECT BENGHAZI COMMITTEE REACTS TO THE CHAPTER RELEASE ... The chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi waved off questions Friday about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's criticism of GOP congressional investigations of the 2012 attacks in her forthcoming book Hard Choices. "There is a time and a place for everything and her book tour is neither for me," Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina told CNN about the chapter of the book that covers the attack in Benghazi, which left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead. – Deirdre Walsh

THE BUZZ: ONCE ARRESTED FOR GUN POSSESSION, SNOOP DOG LEADS REVIVED CAMPAIGN AGAINST GUNS ... In many of his years as a rapper, Snoop Dogg seemed to embrace guns: he was arrested multiple times for gun possession and lyrics from his songs included references such as “So Snoopy he went straight to the trunk of his car (And what he get?), he got his gun and they start running hard.” But these days, the 42-year-old star, whose real name is Calvin Broadus Jr. and also goes by Snoop Lion, is pushing a decidedly anti-gun message. – Wall Street Journal’s Jim Carlton

MARKET WATCH: A winning May ends with the S&P 500 and Dow at record highs. NASDAQ also finishes with gains for the month and week.

TRAIL TRIVIA
(Answer Below)
Every first lady since Lady Bird has written a memoir except for whom?

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Mitt Romney: Rainmaker
Mitt Romney's Back in Iowa. No, the two time Republican presidential candidate isn't launching a third run for the White House. Romney's made it clear a number of times that those days are over. Instead, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP nominee's in the Hawkeye State – which every four years kicks off the presidential caucus and primary calendar – to lend a helping hand to a fellow Republican. – Paul Steinhauser

Leading CNNMoney: Steve Ballmer will ruin the 'Clippies'
The following is an open letter to Clippers fans from a tech journalist who covered Steve Ballmer's Microsoft career: Dear Clippers fans and Los Angeles basketball fans who can't afford Lakers tickets (sorry if that's redundant): ... At Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500), Steve Ballmer had a penchant for renaming things that just weren't working. Windows Mobile became Windows Phone. Hotmail became Outlook. Ballmer's renaming expertise could pay off really well for the Clippers. – David Goldman

Leading Drudge: ‘Under Attack’
Hillary Clinton offers a detailed account of the deadly attack on the American embassy in Benghazi — and a pointed rebuttal to Republican critics who’ve laced into her over the incident — in a much-anticipated chapter of her forthcoming book, “Hard Choices,” obtained by POLITICO. “Those who exploit this tragedy over and over as a political tool minimize the sacrifice of those who served our country,” Clinton writes in the gripping chapter, “Benghazi: Under Attack.” – Politico’s Maggie Haberman

Leading HuffPo: Which Is It? Republican Contradicts Herself On Gay Marriage
Iowa state Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R) says she thinks the legality of same-sex marriage should be left up to the states - but would still support a federal ban on gay marriage if one were proposed. During Thursday's Republican debate, the candidates vying for the GOP nomination were asked for their take on same-sex marriage ... Ernst noted her work on a bill in the Iowa state Senate authorizing a vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state. Ernst was one of the bill's co-sponsors. But despite her support for the right of the people "to make that decision," she said she would back a federal constitutional amendment barring gays and lesbians from getting married. – Mollie Reilly

Leading Politico: Shinseki exit marks a course shift for Obama
Shinseki becomes the highest-profile member of the Obama administration to be forced out — a major departure for Obama, who has consistently stuck by aides in crisis. But Obama struggled to explain why he’d decided to accept Shinseki, given the scope of the problems he described and his decision not to accept the resignation offered by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the height of the HealthCare.gov meltdown last fall. –Edward-Isaac Dovere

Leading New York Times: Doctor Shortage Is Cited in Delays at V.A. Hospitals
At the heart of the falsified data in Phoenix, and possibly many other veterans hospitals, is an acute shortage of doctors, particularly primary care ones, to handle a patient population swelled both by aging veterans from the Vietnam War and younger ones who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to congressional officials, Veterans Affairs doctors and medical industry experts. The department says it is trying to fill 400 vacancies to add to its roster of primary care doctors, which last year numbered 5,100. – Richard A. Oppel Jr. And Abby Goodnough

Gut Check DVR: Watch Inside Politics at 8:30am E.T. Sunday with CNN’s Jake Tapper and guests Molly Ball, Manu Raju, Steve Inskeep, and Margaret Talev.. And catch State of the Union at 9:00am E.T. Sunday with CNN’s Candy Crowley and guests Susan Rice, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, Gen. Jim Jones, Nick Burns, Neera Tanden and Kristen Soltis Anderson.

HOT SOTS
The political bites of the day

– House VA Chairman blames Shinseki’s management style on pressure leading to his resignation: –
REP. JEFF MILLER, R-FLORIDA, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “I told Secretary Shinseki for a number of years that his people were lying to him and not telling him truthful information. They were only bringing the positive things forward. And unfortunately his management style allowed the mid-level bureaucrats to take him down because he could not lead the agency in a way that was necessary for the change that has to take place.”

– Borger: Obama defeated by his own bureaucracy –
CNN’S GLORIA BORGER IN AN OP-ED FOR CNN.COM: “The President is living his own version of "Alice Through the Looking Glass": staring down a rabbit hole of government bureaucracy and inefficiency. The government he has studiously tried to grow, manage and change has become his own personal nemesis. All of which makes you wonder: Does the President himself trust government anymore?”

– Issa changes mind, releases Kerry on June 12th Benghazi subpoena –
HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN DARRELL ISSA IN A STATEMENT: “While Speaker Boehner and I had both originally concluded that Secretary Kerry needed to promptly testify and explain why his Department had withheld subpoenaed documents, neither of us immediately recognized how opponents of congressional oversight would use this as an opportunity to distract from the Select Committee’s effort.”

Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa)
It's been disappointing to watch a long serving former Senator, like Sec Kerry, squirm his way to what I'm doing today.

– Priebus on Hillary Benghazi chapter: Democrats trying to ‘sweep this under the rug’ –
RNC CHAIRMAN REINCE PRIEBUS IN A STATEMENT: "It’s clear Hillary Clinton, President Obama and the Democrats would rather blame Republicans for asking questions than get answers for Americans. They have been less than forthcoming with information and emails show they’ve put politics before the facts from the very beginning. It isn’t acceptable for the Democrats to try to sweep this under the rug. Americans want answers so it doesn’t happen again."

– Obama: Hillary and I are ‘buddies’ –
PRESIDENT OBAMA ON “KELLY & MICHAEL”: “You know, Hillary and I, we’re buddies. I think because we ran in the longest primary in history… the perception was that this was always kind of a marriage of convenience when she came in as secretary of state. I always admired her ... I know that if she were to run for president, I think she would be very effective at that.”

– Obama reacts to question about Michelle running for office –
PRESIDENT OBAMA ON “KELLY & MICHAEL”: “I would say, where did you take my wife? … The one thing I can promise you is Michelle will not run for office.”

TOP TWEETS
What stopped us in 140 characters or less

Tamara Keith (‏@tamarakeithNPR)
Most telling part of Shinseki and Obama remarks, was Shinseki describing being caught off guard by "lack of integrity" among VA leaders.

Garance Franke-Ruta (@thegarance)
Obama describing old broken computer systems at the #VA that complicated everything. Sounds familiar somehow.

Scott MacFarlane (@MacFarlaneNews)
US Dept of Veterans Affairs has 700 lawyers, 75 six-figure salaried public affairs specialists

Cong. Tim Huelskamp (@CongHuelskamp)
#Obama 'I always take responsibility for whatever happens' #LiesYouTell

Rep. Martha Roby (@RepMarthaRoby)
President Obama right to allow Sec Shinseki to step down. Message must be sent at the VA that failing our veterans will not be tolerated.

jennifer bendery (‏@jbendery)
So it begins. Alison Grimes boasts of being "first among Dem Senate candidates or Senators in the nation" to call for Shinseki resignation.

James Hohmann (‏@jameshohmann)
Tom Cotton: "I'm disappointed that, as usual, Sen. Pryor stuck with [O] until the very end, but even [O] realized [S] needed to resign."

Mark Murray ‏(@mmurraypolitics)
Hillary's Benghazi chapter - plus organized P.R. effort - is maybe clearest sign yet she's planning '16 run http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/previewing-next-weeks-primary-battles-n118361http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/first-read/previewing-next-weeks-primary-battles-n118361

Jen Buesinger Sperry ‏(@jenbuesinger)
Susan Rice returns to Sunday morning TV. 9am ET on @CNNsotu with Candy @crowleyCNN #Benghazi #obamadoctrine

Jennifer Jacobs ‏(@JenniferJJacobs)
Scooplet: @SenRandPaul invited to do GOP fundraiser in Iowa in June. http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/elections/2014/05/30/rand-paul-victory-fundraiser/9769215/ … #iasen #iapolitics

strong>Alan Miller ‏(@amiller78)
Welcome to the 1970s, South Carolina: State to lift ban on Election Day sales of alcohol... http://shar.es/V8WBi

Rick Wilson (‏@TheRickWilson)
Because DC is the snake that eats its tail, expect a good amount of bandwidth and bits to cover Carney's cash-out.

Brendan Buck (@BrendanBuck)
Congrats to @PressSec on a great run. Incredibly tough job, and rarely made a misstep.

TRIVIA ANSWER from @sarafischer

Lady Bird Johnson was the first, first lady to have a full book tour accompany her writings about her experience in the White House. Her memoir, “A White House Diary,” which totaled about two million words, was followed by an extensive book tour, which included radio and television appearances. The book, spent 13 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list.

While not every first lady has had as extensive of a book release as Lady Bird, every first lady since Johnson has penned a memoir with the exception of Pat Nixon, who was relatively private about her White House experience.Prior to Johnson, other first ladies wrote about their experiences, but extensive book rollouts did not accompany their memoirs.

GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(Why aren’t you in it?)

Congrats to Steve Liguori (@SteveL3877) for correctly answering today’s Gut Check trivia question.

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Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. just asking

    "That was Ric's judgment on behalf of his fellow veterans, and I agree. We don't have time for distractions. We need to fix the problem," Obama said.
    --

    but you've had 5.5 years to fix the problems and were distracted by speeches, golfing, vacationing, campaigning, campaign fund raising, attending celebrity events, going on adoring talk shows with certified obama butt smoochers, hanging out in hollywood. now your 5.5 years of not caring blows up in your face and its all about fixing the problem. yeah right. just like you're looking for the killers of our people in benghazi. nobody is holding their breath waiting for this guy to actually do his job. he just doesn't think it is his job.

    May 30, 2014 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    "Rep. Martha Roby (@RepMarthaRoby)
    President Obama right to allow Sec Shinseki to step down. Message must be sent at the VA that failing our veterans will not be tolerated."

    Oh STFU with that sanctimonious drivel. The message needs to be sent directly to CONGRESS that failing the troops by failing the VA is OVER. Enough is enough.

    DO SOMETHING OR RESIGN, YOU SELF-SERVING, RESPONSIBILITY-SHIRKING, BLAME GAME PLAYING WORTHLESS TURDS!

    May 30, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "Does the President himself trust government anymore?”"

    Just stick with "derp," Gloria. Your blather makes the eyes bleed.

    May 30, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "The only hope of changing the VA for the better is to allow veterans to have a choice of health care outside the VA system." -Sen. Graham

    Translation: "I don't want to do my job and work to fix the VA. In fact, the decades of breaking it, allowing it to stay broken, refusing to fund it, failing to prepare it for increased needs and looking the other way while it deteriorated were all part of the plan to generate an argument for privatizing it. We break gov't to prove it's broken. After all, we want to privatize everything anyway, and nothing would prove that we can get away with the "starve the beast" privatization plan more than if we can get away with shirking the nation's duty to care for its soldiers and just pawn it off on the private sector."

    May 30, 2014 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  5. ja

    This veterans hospital matter is not new, wake up America, I'm a veteran, since 1979, my confidence in the system has always been low, the system overall has always been a facade

    May 30, 2014 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |